Thursday, July 25, 2024

The one thing about Indian cricket


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By Sunil Gavaskar

 The one thing about Indian cricket is that people have not just short memories but extremely short memories. That is why senior cricketers on my first tour said to me it doesn’t matter how many runs you score in the first couple of Tests but make sure that you score them in the last Test because whatever your deeds earlier on will have been forgotten by the time the final Test is played. How very true this is can be seen by the whipping Mahendra Singh Dhoni is getting for not going for a win when the setting at the final hour of the third test was 86 off 15 over’s or 90 balls. This sort of a score would have been a walk in the park in a T20 format, but a Test match is completely different and the fielding side’s skipper can put all his fielders including the wicket keeper on the boundary and stop the fours, and the batsman would have struggled to hit sixes on a pitch where the ball was not quite coming on to the bat as it was in the first couple of Tests. Those sticking it into Dhoni forgot his declaration in the second innings of the Barbados Test when he could have batted on a bit more and made the game totally safe. Instead by declaring when he did, he gave the Windies too a glimmer of hope and made them go for the target. If it had gone wrong there the skipper would have been demolished instead of lauded for bringing life in the rain affected Test match.

The problem in India is even those used to taking orders rather than giving them will talk about leadership. In my view Dhoni is the one guy in the history of Indian cricket who actually doesn’t care if he is the captain or not. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about winning but that if the captaincy is taken away from him he won’t miss it or brood about it. He will continue to play as long as he is enjoying it and if he is not then there’s always the Sukhoi to fly and get his highs. Cricket is his chosen career alright, but he is not going to lose sleep if he has to play under anybody for captaincy isn’t the be all and end all for him. Captains want to do what’s best for the team for that is the only way they can retain the job and if it means that the shutters have to be put down then so be it and if the world calls him a defensive skipper then it is they who expose their lack of knowledge about leadership.

The biggest plus for India from the series was the return to wicket taking form of Ishant Sharma. For the first time one saw West Indian batsmen not getting into line to play him and after spraying a few down the leg-side in the first test he came back brilliantly to win the man of the series award. Praveen Kumar was another who impressed with his controlled swing bowling and when Zaheer Khan joins them, India should have a very potent new ball attack indeed. Harbhajan Singh is another whipping boy for some who expect him to pick five wickets in every innings even when they understand that Sachin Tendulkar cannot score a ton every time he walks out to bat. His getting to the 400 wickets landmark is a huge achievement and it should be lauded. Suresh Raina is another who worked hard at his so called deficiency and got fifties in every test match. Plus his fielding was brilliant always and his off spin kept getting breakthroughs for the team.

India did the job they were expected to do which was to win the one day and Test series and you can’t quibble with that. If you do then you must be the Grand dad of Sir Don and Sir Gary.


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